Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech to develop CoroFlu, an Intranasal COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccine manufacturer Bharat Biotech is developing a special ‘CoroFlu’ a Coronavirus intranasal vaccine.

On Friday, Bharat Biotech, based in Hyderabad announced an international alliance between virologists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the FluGen vaccine companies along with Bharat Biotech has initiated the production and testing of an innovative COVID-19 vaccine called CoroFlu.

CoroFlu will rely on flu vaccine candidate FluGen’s known as M2SR. Centered on an invention by UW­–Madison virologists and FluGen co-founders Gabriele Neumann and Yoshihiro Kawaoka, M2SR is an auto-limiting variant of the influenza virus that induces an immune system response to the flu.

Kawaoka’s laboratory will insert specific genes of SARS-CoV-2, the original coronavirus that produces the COVID-19 disease, into M2SR so that the new vaccine can also stimulate coronavirus immunity.

It is expected to take three to six months to refine the CoroFlu vaccine formulation and study it in laboratory animal models at UW-Madison. Bharat Biotech will then launch production level-up in Hyderabad, India for health and efficacy testing in humans.

The M2SR flu vaccine has been shown to be safe and well-tolerated by four-phase I and phase II clinical studies affecting hundreds of subjects.

This mechanism of action, the ability of M2SR to induce a strong immune response and the ability of influenza viruses to carry sequences of other viruses make M2SR an appealing choice for the fast production of CoroFlu as a safe and effective SARS-CoV-2 vaccine.

CoroFlu will be administered intranasally as will M2SR. This route of implementation imitates the normal route of coronavirus and influenza infection and activates many immune system modes.

The intranasal injection is more effective than the intramuscular shots that deliver most flu vaccines in triggering several forms of immune responses.

Bharat Biotech will produce the vaccine, perform clinical trials and plan for the global delivery of approximately 300 million doses of the vaccine. Under the cooperation agreement, FluGen will move its existing production processes to Bharat Biotech to allow the company to increase production and manufacture the vaccine for clinical trials, “said Dr. Raches Ella, Head of Business Devel.

CoroFlu may be in clinical tests with humans by fall 2020.

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